14.3.11

all the cherry blossoms



Yesterday, I went to our friend Arup's yoga class, for the first time since before Christmas. I needed to be there, and during the meditation part at the end, this is what I saw: cherry blossoms. And images of Nao, a stylist who I became friends with when I first came to fashion week - and who happens to be working with Roz, today: a photo shoot, I believe, for a Japanese magazine. That is what I thought about, the people of Japan, and how a country that I've still never been to has been such a beautiful part of my life.

My father went there, after the war, as an American GI, a medic. I knew that his love of Japan and the Japanese people stayed with him all his life. He came of age there.



I came of age, in a sense, when my boyfriend during my college years introduced me to a very beautiful form of Japanese karate called Shorei Kan, which we studied when I first came to New York (the dojo was on the top of a small building on Fifth Avenue). His brother, in fact, wrote the Karate Kid, based on him and on these philosophies.

That same boyfriend used to tell me about the Japanese concept of 'favour': when you do someone a favour, you are meant to forget you've done it. But when someone does you a favour, you never forget. I remember thinking: a culture based on that philosophy.. how beautiful.






When the cherry trees are in blossom, I have always, always felt a poignant sadness, ever since childhood, that I didn't understand. But to have that image of cherry trees yesterday morning, and then we were driving around town and I realised they were in bloom.. all I wanted was to photograph them. Just as I said that, we passed one tree, in Hyde Park. My husband stopped the car and I got out.


It was only a few moments, but I took all the photos here, and more. I just snapped for a few minutes, and it was the most extraordinary experience: I felt enveloped by the love of this tree. All the cherry blossoms.. each one unique, beautiful, unseen by any other human being, up this close. Each would not live forever, but just for that moment, each was so gloriously alive.





And I started to wonder: how many blossoms on this one tree? 1000? 10,000? I felt like each blossom represented a soul lost in the earthquake, in the tsunami. And then today, when I was about to do this post, I saw two things: one was Rumi's beautiful post, the other a retweet by Osman about an event in New York, the place where I experienced Japan so intimately, at Carnegie Hall. In the Times piece, I read this quote:

“The show goes on,” Mr. Gillinson said. “One thing in music and all the performing arts, nobody ever feels they won’t find a solution. Everybody makes things happen.”

If you go to the Photodiarist's beautiful blog, and search around the archives for her trip to Japan.. I can remember her posting beautiful images of the cherry blossoms there. And ironically, when I looked it up on wikipedia: Washington, DC, has their own cherry blossom festival, in two week's time: 27th March.



What if, today, each of us were to think of one thing we wanted: one item of clothing, or a new pair of shoes, something we were planning to buy for ourselves, then imagined it swept away in a tsunami. And instead, what if we gave that money, anonymously, to the Red Cross. It won't bring back the souls that are gone, but at least we can feel that there is a solution. That individually, together, in small and in large ways, we can make things happen.

25 comments:

ql said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts! "What if, today" - oh yes, wouldn't that be a sign of our humanity, wouldn't that show that we've learned something from history!

savez said...

I admire the way your posts gently "transform" into comments on such sad news like those from japan. you write about it in such a graceful, never pushy way. it takes a lot of wisdom and epathy. thank you for that.
and the "favour" thing - so true...

the style crusader said...

Jill, I absolutely love the way you've put this post together. I know I've told you loads of times before, but these posts where you weave a story through the photos are always my favourite. Beautiful shots of the tree and they coincide so well with the simplicity and serenity of Nao. Really touching words as well.

I'm so glad you got the chance to stop and take the photos of this tree. Love how at the end you show the whole picture of both Nao and the tree.

xx

A La Mode said...

Beautiful photos Jill! My heart is with Japan at the moment, I just can't get my head around it. Something so terrible, seams so unreal. They need all our help, even if all we can spare them is our hearts.

Clazzerati said...

another beautiful and heart-felt post, Jill. Anything we can do to help, no matter how small, must be done.

I hope you are keeping well, sorry i've been away for so long. xxx

Fashion Limbo said...

Gorgeous post Jill, stunning text and beautiful pictures. The more I hear/see about Japan the more my heart breaks. Sad times.
Thanks for such an uplifting post.

Kazuko said...

beautiful. and sad at the same time. i still have a flight booked to tokyo on 1st april. now i can only hope that no more people get killed and harmed in this tragedy. can barely watch the news, it's just too much. my thoughts are with my family, friends and all the people actually all the time.

San said...

Jill, this is such a wonderful, wonderful post.

I'm actually in awe of the japanese people, how they handle all of this.

I can barely read the news without starting to cry. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation.

SabinePsynopsis said...

So very heartfelt, and you do so rightly point out the important thing that we can help each other, support each other. I also hope it makes us reconsider the dangers of nuclear energy. xoxo

style odyssey said...

Jill, you show such sympathy. Your writing and photos are bittersweet and utterly lovely.

I have never been to Japan but it is on my travel list of places I absolutely must visit. They have the most beautiful culture...an almost elegant way of handling disaster, clearly as we have seen from video clips and news.

xoxo

Roz said...

Jill, your post almost brought me to tears - you always write so eloquently about situations, whether happy or tragic. The link to the blossom is incredibly poignant, as for me blossom links to part of the whole idea of rebirth during spring. Hopefully Japan can rise from this, but it will take a long time to rebuild both the country, and for the hurt to subside. My thoughts are with any and every person affected by the devastation, and we should keep them in our thoughts.
My family are going to donate to the Red Cross soon, and I am just about to do a post - do you mind if I link to this article?
And thankfully neither Nao's (nor any of the other Japanese members of the team) family have been hurt.

ediot said...

This post is absolutely incredible, i think one of your best so far. the way you put the photos together with your words. it's just so good.
I'm horrified by the events occurring in Japan, and so sad for the people there and their loved ones, just hope there won't be any more tragedy with the nuclear plants now.
take care dear
x

i am not a celebrity said...

Wow. You've captured me and my mood. Lovely, poignant, honest.

polka dot said...

Thank you, all you beautiful friends. It's incredible to think: of the people who have commented here, I think I actually know and have spent time with almost all of you. And that's all through our blogs, that's how we've found each other.

Times like this tragedy have made people realise, I feel, how connected we are. Or, should be.

It's a strange thing but I can't do a post today. I keep trying, but I just want to keep this one up for a day or so, out of respect. I hadn't read back what I wrote yesterday, but reading it back... I used the word beautiful over and over. I guess because the images we're seeing are so ugly, all that dark water and splintered wood and fire and destruction.. somehow I want to keep posting images of cherry blossoms and pretty waves and happy Japanese people, as if that wish could undo all that's happened.

Olivia Isabella. said...

Such a humbling, saddening post, but still of beauty... Like how you felt about the blossom trees! I hope people take your advice or at least help in other ways. My school is aiming to raise £10,000 to help the victims so I will do my best to contribute to that.

Olivia x

Barrijayne said...

This is a really beautiful piece of writing and the photographs are so amazing!!!

xx

Katie said...

Washington, D.C. always comes to mind when I think of cherry blossoms. The history behind the trees and the symbolism of their gift only adds to the beauty of the blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin.

The Photodiarist said...

I am so so so devastated about Japan . . . I keep looking back at photos from last year and am stunned that this is happening only a year later. I used to think of DC when I thought of cherry blossoms until I went to Japan. In any case, DC's cherry trees were a gift from Japan . . . Okay . . . I am rambling now. In any case, thank you for the lovely post.

Fashionstyle said...

Amazing pictures !!

Kathleen said...

What a beautiful post -- in so many ways. You might think that small, individual actions are insignificant, but it is just the opposite. No, it won't bring back the souls that are lost, but those that remain will feel the force of the world holding them up. It's funny how certain images are in the world's unconscious right now. I dreamed last night that I was climbing the cherry blossom tree that stood in my front yard in Japan. I lived there as a child, and cherry blossom trees lined our street; in bloom, they were so beautiful and otherworldly.

Shopgirl said...

Keep coming back to this post. Those blossoms are so beautiful :)

(I just linked to this post in my latest one - hope that's ok)

Maria said...

Really beautiful post. Thank you for posting. <3

Veshoevius said...

Very moving post and such wonderful imagery to accompany it - the cherry blossoms make me think of hope springing eternal, hope that things will start to get better for the battered Japanese people - you may be interested to know about this blogger event aimed at raising awareness and donations:
http://taxonomyofmywardrobe.blogspot.com/2011/03/for-japan-with-love.html

KrystlesStyle* said...

Jill, this is a beautiful post!! Thank you for sharing!

tonbogirl said...

This truly is wonderful, Jill, gentle and yet powerful. thanks.